For past and present new students at UW-La Crosse, you may remember taking tours around campus lead by student ambassadors, or Vanguards. It's how UW-L likes to give potential students a feel for what life would be like should they choose to attend university there. To give these tours, however, you have to learn a few things... quite a few actually.
"A lot of a people ask about prices, like how much does the Recreational Eagle Center cost, what does textbook rental cost... lot of prices for everything," said 2nd year Vanguard Mitchell Kennedy. "We've got to know about residence life, intramural sports on campus, the dining... pretty much every little feature on campus that students are going to want to know."
On top of that, it's a function of the Vanguards to have their tours create an inviting atmosphere for both students and parents.
"When I give a tour, I like to make it 50% entertaining, 50% educational," said 1st year Vanguard Jordan Raether. "I always give it to the students real, I tell them what's great, what's not so great, so they have a real experience when they come here."
Though there are guidelines for what to show and talk about, each student really has the opportunity to add their own personality and flair to the tours.
"[For me] it starts with open and honest dialogue," Jordan added. "I love telling stories about my personal experience, I tell stories about the Clocktower, there's a myth that if you walk under it, you won't graduate in 4 years... that happened to me."
UW-L Vanguards like Mitchell and Jordan will end up giving one or two tours per week, averaging out at 13 tours by the time the semester ends. However, some will pick up more tours, simply because it's an enjoyable experience.
"We're all volunteers, so we're not here to get paid to give tours," Mitchell added. "We're here because we love UW-L, we love the campus, we love the university, we love absolutely everything about UW-L."
"I really love giving tours because you realize how much you know about the university and after you've been here for a while, you realize how much it means to you," said Jordan.
And when it's all said and done, they're taking real life skills away from the experience as well.
"I'd say I definitely picked up a lot more public speaking skills," Mitchell said. "I hated standing in front of classes and giving speeches, so I think walking around campus [and] giving tours has made my public speaking and standing up in front of crowds a lot less nervous."
"It's a good opportunity for public relations," said Jordan. "...the communications skills you learn along the way, engaging people, learning how to tell stories and communicate better with people around you."
"[It's] definitely one of my favorite things about UW-L," Mitchell said.
Vanguard training began on Sunday, August 28th at UW-L's Cleary Center, classes officially begin on Tuesday, September 6th.